Summer 2024: Here are 9 new Bay Area alfresco restaurants to try

Summer has arrived, and these balmy evenings call for outdoor dining atop a rooftop, perhaps, or on a shaded terrace or twinkle-lit patio. Here are nine fantastic new spots from Danville to Redwood City and beyond for alfresco dining — or brunching. Cheers!

Aracely Lounge, Danville

Guests dine in the patio area of Aracely Lounge on Sunday, June 2, 2024, in Danville, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

Aracely Lounge is chef Linda Edson’s new sister spot to Aracely Cafe on Treasure Island, known for its gorgeous garden vibes and Californian cooking with international flair.

The space used to be Stilettos Piano Bar, and Edson did a ton of work to retrofit what used to be the parking lot into a spacious patio channeling the Tuscan countryside – ripping out asphalt and putting in pea gravel and decomposed granite, hanging string lights, planting citrus and a pair of 40-year-old olive trees. It’s now a spectacular place to lounge with a glass of bubblies and good company, or enjoy brunch served five days a week.

The patio: There’s a soft, almost feminine feel to the child and dog-friendly patio. Frilly, cream-colored patio umbrellas hang like great jellyfish over tables mounded with white roses. There are about 20 tables with regular or communal seating, and toward the back plush outdoor sofas you can sink into to soak up the intense Danville sun.

The menu: Edson was born in Argentina to a French mother and later moved to Mexico, and her cooking reflects her mixed cultural heritage. Raw oysters come with ginger kimchi, for instance, the sesame-seared yellowfin has black mushrooms and soba and the grilled hanger steak is served with chimichurri.

The chef is devoted to highly seasonal, local ingredients, so look for things like a spring mixed ceviche with Meyer lemon and artichokes or pork-belly sliders with fish sauce and green strawberries. The bar pours a carefully curated menu of Californian wines, local beers and ciders, intriguing cocktails with fruit-infused liquors, and cappuccino made with San Francisco’s Sightglass coffee.

Aracely Lounge opened in Danville in spring 2024, featuring chef Linda Edson’s seasonal Californian cooking with international twists. Pictured: amberjack crudo with limequats, avocado and sesame. (John Metcalfe/Bay Area News Group) 

Don’t miss: The brunch chilaquiles are an impressive mouthful with ancho-braised beef cheeks, gigante beans, an over-easy egg and guacamole. And Edson’s braised-rabbit stew is a deeply satisfying melange of orzo, sunchokes, French beans and leek sauce. Don’t skimp on dessert that often highlights seasonal fruits, as all bread and pastries are made in-house.

Details: Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday (closed Monday and Tuesday) at 148 E. Prospect Ave., Danville;

Copita, San Jose

Copita, on a prime corner in Willow Glen, offers fans of alfresco dining two patio options — one on the roof and one downstairs. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

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The rooftop of celebrity chef Joanne Weir’s Copita Willow Glen is finally getting its day in the sun.

A long-awaited addition to the Lincoln Avenue restaurant and retail row, Copita made its debut last Oct. 30 — just as that unusually long and chilly rainy season was beginning. Now, half a year later, locals eager to dine alfresco have made these seats a hot commodity.

This is Weir’s second Copita Tequileria y Comida. A tequila guidebook she wrote became the inspiration for the original, which opened in 2012 on Bridgeway in Sausalito. Both restaurants combine seasonal California ingredients with regional Mexican recipes.

The rooftop: Take in the sunset or the twinkly lights on Lincoln Avenue from one of the 40 seats under the shaded trellis, the 30 lounge seats in the “fire table” area, or the 30 seats in the bar. Time your visit wisely, for it’s first come, first served for these coveted spots, though Weir partner Michael Mindel says a group reservation plan is in the works. That will launch this summer, along with brunch specialties for the first time.

The Copita rooftop offers views of Lincoln Avenue and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

The menu: Small plates are the focus up on the rooftop, where you can share a trio of Baja Style Cod ($21) or Battered Cauliflower Tacos ($18), maybe a plate of Shrimp Aguachile ($18) or Roasted Brussels ($14), and selections from beverage director Adam Wilson’s tequila- and mezcal-dominated cocktail menu. We’re also fans of the gin-based Loteria ($16) and La Flor ($15). For ceviches and larger plates, head to the downstairs patio or dining room.

Don’t miss: Executive chef Azari Cuenca-Maitret, a culinary star from Mexico, was a pork ambassador for that country, which means the Trompo al Pastor Tacos (three for $19) are always a good selection. The tender pork is marinated in achiote, roasted on the trompo, carved, then served on house-made tortillas with a caramelized pineapple salsa, onion and cilantro.

Details: The rooftop patio and bar are open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The downstairs main dining room and patio serve lunch and dinner daily, starting at 11:30 a.m., at 1098 Lincoln Ave., San Jose;

Farmhouse Kitchen, Berkeley

A waiter delivers food on the terrace for customers Kiki Benjasiriwan, left, and her friend Mick Del Rosario, of San Francisco, at Farmhouse Kitchen in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, May 29, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Chef Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang’s hugely popular empire of Farmhouse Kitchen restaurants – of which there are now five in the Bay Area – opened its newest location this spring in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, right next to Chez Panisse.

Like its sisters, the Northern Thai restaurant is bedazzled with iridescent flowers, hanging lanterns and golden frill, a high level of décor that matches food engineered half toward taste and half toward making your Instagram followers green with envy. It might seem like a gimmick, if the flavors weren’t so good.

The terrace: The outdoor area is high above the street – there’s an elevator – with excellent views of the Bay’s rolling mist and setting sun. There are pretty cloth umbrellas and a glass wind barrier plus heat lamps. Succulents and a vegetable garden add a jungle feel, as do plates featuring geckos and hummingbirds.

The menu: The restaurant’s specials rise off the table like architectural marvels and bear names like Tsunami Crab (a Dungeness posed like it’s trying to hug your face) and Volcano Cup Noodles (an instant-ramen cup topped with a dinosaur-sized beef rib). Then there are normal dishes for plebeians not concerned with social-media fame, like chicken wings with spicy pineapple sauce, fiery papaya salad with long beans and an excellent green curry with eggplant as shiny-purple as an exotic beetle.

The Tsunami lobster with prawns, scallops, mussels, clams and calamari is one of the special dishes served at Farmhouse Kitchen in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, May 29, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Don’t miss: If you want to impress a date, aim for the Pacific pad thai with scallops and a lobster tail or the whole crispy branzino served on a sizzling plate. Otherwise, that green eggplant curry is a guaranteed hit. And don’t miss the artfully constructed cocktails with fresh fruits and banana leaves, or the nonalcoholic blue pea-flower limeade.

Details: Open daily for lunch and dinner at 1549 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley;

Hurrica, Redwood City

This beautiful addition to the Peninsula dining scene is truly a destination restaurant — one that welcomes diners who arrive via land or via sea at Redwood City’s Westpoint Harbor.

Hurrica is the brainchild of marina owners Mark and Maureen Sanders, who turned to the team behind Mersea on Treasure Island, chef Parke Ulrich and entrepreneur MeeSun Boice, to turn their idea into reality.

The patio: Since this restaurant’s opening in chilly February, the most appealing tables have been inside near the museum-caliber jellyfish aquarium, a floor-to-ceiling tank with 200 floating stars. Now, with glorious weather, more diners are opting for the casual tables outside and the serene harbor views. Heaters keep things cozy. (And you can always visit the jellyfish after your meal.)

The menu: Like the jellyfish, the chefs are on view. In their glass-wall kitchen. Ulrich and executive chef Justin Baade have adopted a live-fire philosophy, with most dishes spending time in the 6-foot-long hearth, from the beets in the Chopped Market Lettuces salad ($16) that are roasted for five hours to the Kombu-Wrapped Lobster ($95) that steams in the embers. At lunchtime, a Grilled Tombo Tuna Sandwich ($23), the Hurrica Burger with coal-roasted onions ($21) and other elevated casual dishes join the menu.

Signature cocktails at the marble bar include Hurrica ($18), which comes with a small glass of sparkling wine to drink by itself or add to the sweet-tart blend of rum, vanilla vodka, passionfruit, grenadine and lemon.

Don’t miss: First, the deal. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, there’s a $1.99 Featured Oyster of the Day. For a shareable starter or rich entree, consider the sublime Lobster Ravioli ($23), with fresh lobster encased in handmade pasta and sauced with an aged sherry butter. And a shout-out to the pastry team for such artful, delicious desserts as the reimagined Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

Details: Open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, daily starting at 5 p.m. for dinner. Abundant free parking. Westpoint Harbor, 150 Northpoint Court, Redwood City;

The Breakfast Club at Midtown, Lafayette

A trio of pancakes and French toast is one of the options for the Midtown Trio on the menu at The Breakfast Club at Midtown in Lafayette, CA. (Don Feria for Bay Area News Group) 

Run by the Tsaboukos family behind local Greek chain Opa!, The Breakfast Club at Midtown is by far no longer just in Midtown (San Jose). The restaurant recently expanded to Walnut Creek and now to downtown Lafayette, and has plans for others yet in Castro Valley and Morgan Hill.

There’s a reason it’s so popular – it’s simply one of the best places to grab a classic Californian-style breakfast or brunch around. We’re saying “Californian,” because aside from buttermilk pancakes, hearty scrambles and eggs Benedict, there are things like spicy Korean chicken-fried rice, loco moco and chow mein. Order these outliers and who knows, it might just become your favorite new way to start the morning.

The patio: Located by the Lafayette Clocktower retail complex, the Breakfast Club sports two outdoor areas in addition to its two dining rooms: a patio shaded by the sun that overlooks the main drag, and a space tucked away in an alley with an overhanging iron balcony and baskets of flowers. If you like observing the hustle and bustle of society, choose the former; if it’s seclusion and relative quiet you’re after, head to the alley.

The local restaurant chain The Breakfast Club at Midtown opened a new location in spring 2024 in Lafayette, featuring two dining rooms and two outdoor areas. (John Metcalfe/Bay Area News Group) 

The menu: Everything under the sun related to breakfast is here, with multiple variations and mutations. Pancakes come in forms like peach cobbler and red velvet, French toast with flavors like banana-apricot and raspberry cream cheese, and both can be ordered in trios. There are almost a dozen Benedicts including crab cake, bacon-tomato-avocado and carnitas, and Mexican dishes like chilaquiles and steak huevos rancheros.

Because no brunch is complete without booze, there’s also a “Liquid Breakfast” menu of bubblies and Bloody Marys – the house-mix Mary comes with bacon, and a Baltimore has Absolute Citron, Old Bay seasoning and a lemon prawn.

Don’t miss: The pancake and French-toast trio is a blast, served on a plate the size of a kid’s surfboard. A Benedict with linguica has perfectly poached eggs and snappy, juicy sausage, and for a heartier meal try the short-rib French dip or the club sandwich with fries.

Details: Open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily at 3577 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette; or 925-385-4505

Izzy’s on the Peninsula, San Carlos

This legacy Bay Area steakhouse (the flagship is in SF’s Marina district) has been perched on breezy San Francisco Bay near the San Carlos Airport for years — but hasn’t had a real patio until recently.

Second-generation owner Samantha DuVall Bechtel launched a months-long renovation that created a clubby, yet welcoming look, with walled booths in the main restaurant, private dining rooms for events and the new Garden Patio, which is welcoming its first guests.

The patio: A thick green hedge of waxleaf privet offers privacy and protection from the wind on this spacious patio designed in black and white with olive-green accents. There’s seating for about 50, but the patio, with its outdoor bar, can accommodate more for stand-up events. Bonus: Look up between bites and you can catch glimpses of the small, colorful airplanes that take off nearby.

The menu: Shareables of Drunken Prawns ($24), Mussels with nduja ($25) and Deviled Eggs ($13) lighten up the meaty menu. But the signature entrees are still the steaks and chops ($35 to $55) sourced from Creekstone Farms and Flannery Beef. You can pair them with seafood, sides or house-made sauces (au poivre, chimichurri,  horseradish cream or steak sauce). For dessert, Glazed Crullers ($14) are made to order.

Don’t miss: A popular one-platter feast is “The Gomez” ($52), a 10-ounce prime rib that comes with “Izzy’s own potatoes” and that de rigueur steakhouse side dish, creamed spinach, We can vouch for the decadent-but-not-too spinach and the 8-ounce Marinated Skirt Steak with fries ($38). The chef wisely recommends diners order this cut of meat just below medium.

The Hideout Kitchen & Cafe, Lafayette

The Harvest dish at Hideout Kitchen and Cafe in Lafayette offers a satisfying Thanksgiving-in-a-bowl combination of flavors. (Kate Bradshaw/Bay Area News Group) 

East Bay chef and restaurant co-owner JB Balingit first opened The Hideout Kitchen and Cafe in Lafayette in 2015, but it wasn’t until recently that it took on the space at 32 Lafayette Circle, the former location of The Cooperage. The restaurant serves up California comfort food with some Filipino flourishes.

The patio: The dining space here opens seamlessly between the indoors and outdoors, with plenty of shade for those who find themselves outside. It’s also dog-friendly. It was a packed scene during a visit on Memorial Day, and the wait was longer for seating outdoors than inside the restaurant.

The menu: Depending on the season and the time of day, you’ll get a different menu here. Head to The Hideout for brunch and you’ll get options like chorizo breakfast tacos ($19), and Filipino-inspired dishes like ube hotcakes ($18) or pulled pork silog ($24) – plus a selection of refreshing “Boozy Brunch” cocktails ($12-$17). Meanwhile, lunch offerings include salads, wraps, paninis and flatbreads, while dinner goes in for shared plates and mains like blackened salmon and honey fried chicken.

Don’t miss: It’s hard to go wrong. For vegetarians, try the Harvest bowl ($22), which comes served in a bowl with mushroom tempura, green beans, farro and corn succotash, pickled red onions, and more, offering a savory vegetable bowl that tastes a lot like Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, the Hideout burger ($20) comes topped with an over-easy egg, Havarti cheese and eight ounces of ground chuck burger all sandwiched inside a brioche bun.

Details:  Open weekdays at 11 a.m. and weekends at 10 a.m. 32 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette;

Isola Osteria, Danville

Patrons take part in a La Montina wine dinner on the patio at Isola Osteria in Danville, Calif., on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 

Nestled on a side street of downtown Danville, this Italian restaurant was the perfect spot to indulge in an early-summer lunch or dinner out. Owned by East Bay restaurateur Angelo Dalo, the restaurant serves up Sicilian-style Italian cuisine, which it showcased during a recent special wine dinner. His family also runs Agrodolce in Berkeley.

The patio: The outdoor patio offers a shaded and comfortable seating setup. On a hot day, though, even the shade can be pretty toasty, so indoor seating is a great option too. Set apart from the busiest parts of Danville, it offers a quiet and relaxing oasis for catching up with friends over a great meal.

The menu: Isola Osteria offers a full array of salads, antipasti, and first and second course dishes on its menu. On the summer menu, there are appetizers like the prosciutto melone ($18), featuring prosciutto paired with cantaloupe, honeydew, a tomato confit and balsamic syrup; first courses like the ragu di Maiale ($26) with pork, sausage, ribs and pappardelle with a tomato  basil sauce, and second courses like branzino ($37), served with broccoli rabe and roasted rosemary potatoes. Looking for something lighter or lower cost? Consider visiting for the restaurant’s happy hour offerings, which include an Aperol spritz ($8) and arancini ($10, usually $15).

Don’t miss: When asked what menu items deserve highlighting, a staff member at the restaurant circled about half of the menu items, all of which looked promising. However, sometimes it’s the simple dishes done well that stand out, and that for this author was the caprese panini ($16), which featured both burrata and mozzarella cheeses, plus heirloom tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, arugula and pesto, all served on an Acme ciabatta roll next to a side salad featuring blood orange vinaigrette. The burrata was soft and melted in the mouth, while the ciabatta was crispy and chewy, lending the sandwich a perfect flavor and texture blend.

Details: Open Tuesday-Sunday noon-2:30 p.m.; reopens for dinner 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 5-9 p.m. weekends, closed Monday, at 100 Railroad Ave., Danville;

Sushi Roku, Palo Alto

The Gensai sushi roll at Sushi Roku in Palo Alto comes served with cucumber, jalapeño and avocado and is topped with salmon, kizami wasabi, rice crackers and yuzu olive oil. (Kate Bradshaw/Bay Area News Group) 

The first Northern California location for the high-end sushi brand, Sushi Roku has opened its doors in Palo Alto at the Stanford Shopping Center. The brand began in 1997 in Los Angeles and has since expanded to other locations including in Las Vegas and Austin.

The patio: Dog-friendly and shaded, with vibey music, it’s got all the trappings of an excellent date night destination. The lush greenery overflowing from nearby planters and heating lamps – should the weather take a turn for the cooler – all added to the elegant atmosphere.

The menu: Broken into “Farm” “Sea” and “Land” sections, there’s surely something for everyone’s dietary needs, whether they’re vegetarian, pescatarian or carnivorous. Overwhelmed? Try a curated sampling of dishes with the Roku Izakaya Feast, sharing staff favorites from across the menu at $78 per person.

Don’t miss: The Gensai signature roll  ($24) is not just tasty but visually striking, with salmon and kizami wasabi on the top of each slice of the roll, which is packed with cucumber, jalapeño and avocado. As a garnish, crunchy rice cracker bits are sprinkled on top, adding extra crunch to each refreshing bite. The Tropical Hibiscus cocktail ($18) – made with hibiscus-infused tequila, passionfruit, coconut and pomegranate, is a popular drink – and a delicious one.

Details: Opens weekdays at 4 p.m. and weekends at noon at 180 El Camino Real #700a, Palo Alto (at Stanford Shopping Center);

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